Auto insurance protects you against financial loss if you have an accident. It is a contract between you and the insurance company where you agree to pay the premium and the insurance company agrees to pay your losses as defined in your policy.
When you buy an auto insurance policy, you are buying a package of individual coverages. Each coverage protects you against different types of losses. Once you understand the various coverages, you can decide which ones to include in your personal insurance package. You can also determine the limits of coverage you will need.
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Automobile Insurance Coverage
The following are some common coverages found in a standard automobile insurance policy. Your particular policy may not include all of these coverages.
Bodily Injury (BI) Liability Coverage
Bodily Injury (BI) Liability Coverage pays, up to the coverage limits, for damages due to injury or death of others in a vehicle accident for which you or the operator of your vehicle are legally responsible. It also pays your legal defense costs. In most states this coverage is mandatory.
Property Damage (PD) Liability Coverage
Property Damage (PD) Liability Coverage pays, up to the coverage limits, for another individual’s vehicle or property that has been damaged in an accident for which you or the operator of your vehicle is legally responsible. In most states this coverage is also mandatory.
Medical Payments Coverage
Medical Payments Coverage pays, up to the coverage limits, for reasonable and necessary doctor, hospital and funeral expenses for you and your passengers injured or killed in an accident, regardless of who is at fault. Payments are usually limited to one to three years after the accident. This coverage is optional in most states without no-fault insurance systems.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists (UM/UIM) Coverage
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists (UM/UIM) Coverage pays up to the coverage limits for pain and suffering which is not covered by medical, disability and PIP. Underinsured motorist coverage pays for bodily injury to you or your family resulting from the negligence of someone whose liability insurance limits are insufficient. The definition of an underinsured motorist varies from state to state.
Collision Coverage pays up to the coverage limits, for damage to your vehicle or a vehicle you are operating caused by a collision or rollover. If you have a loan on your vehicle, this coverage is usually required by the lender.
Comprehensive Physical Damage Coverage
Comprehensive Physical Damage Coverage pays, up to the coverage limits, for damage to your vehicle or any vehicle in your custody resulting from theft, fire, vandalism, flooding, hail or other perils (but not damage by collision or overturning). If you have a loan on your vehicle, this coverage is usually required by the lender.
Rental Reimbursement pays up to a specified amount for rental vehicle charges while your vehicle is being repaired for damage covered under your policy. If you prefer not to incur the cost of renting a vehicle yourself and cannot be without a vehicle while yours is being repaired, you might consider this coverage.
Towing and Labor
Towing and Labor covers some costs incurred for services rendered at the place of breakdown or for towing to a repair shop. It covers the delivery of gas, oil or a battery, but not the cost of these items. If you lock the keys in the vehicle or need a tire changed, this may also be covered. These services are often included in auto club memberships, which can result in unnecessary duplicate coverage.